Abstract 摘要

In Western societies, the idea of informed consent as a legal account has long been there and developed significantly. This idea originated from the "uremberg Code". In fact, informed consent is neither a mere "legal document" nor a "common decision" made by the physician and the patient. It is a concept rich in moral content. It is about how an individual perceives and intentionally (without being controlled by others) agrees and allows professionals to carry out certain actions on him/her.

China has a unique traditional cultural background and economic development level. Due to the emphasis on responsibility and collectiveness in Chinese cultural traditions, introducing the Western theory, beliefs, and practice based upon individual autonomy and rights to Chinese society does not have solid foundation. According to Chinese cultural traditions, people consider responsibility instead of rights during making ethical decisions. These deeply-rooted traditions assure the interests of the whole and tend to neglect the rights of the individual. Chinese families and communities have a very strong sense of cohesiveness. With the assistance and support of the family or community, the thinking and understanding of informed consent can be established on a more adequate and solid foundation. This kind of way to get informed consent is very valuable: it is more accurate and can also fulfills the ethical principle of respect. However, the assistance of the family or community should not override individual's autonomy in making decisions. Moreover, community "permission" is not equal to individual "consent". Indeed, it should not replace individual "consent".

Contemporary China faces many practical problems, such as clinical medicine testing, establishing Institutional Review Broads (IRBs), differences between reasonable compensation and improper reward, conflict of interests in genetic research as well as the practice of informed consent. They demand ethical attention and a large amount of careful research.